The Beer Lover’s Kitchen: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Fried Sage and Hazelnut Relish and Burning Sky Saison L'Automne

From chestnuts to squash, autumn calls forth a bounty of seasonal ingredients that are all the more enticing for their ephemerality. But beyond all the pumpkins, the season’s arrival also heralds a slew of autumnal beers worth seeking out for the few short months that they can be found on the shelves.

Case in point: Burning Sky's elegant Saison L'Automne. Made with late-summer blackberries plucked from the wild brambles that surround the brewery, as well as pink peppercorns and grains of paradise, it pours the subtlest shade of blush in the glass. In the mouth, its fruit is subtle, too: a tart blackberry essence is just detectable, while a whisper of pepper rounds out each gulp.

Brewed with Burning Sky's house saison yeast, as well as brettanomyces and lactobacillus, the beer has a beautiful complexity now; leave it longer and it’ll only continue to evolve and incline further towards funkiness.

I like my saisons paired with cheese, whose richness they're adept at tempering, and what better way to turn cheese into a complete meal than a grilled cheese sandwich (or, for my British brethren, a toastie)?

Whatever you prefer to call it, this sandwich is made with two positively unctuous characters—Taleggio and Délice de Bourgogne, an exquisite triple crème cheese—as well as fried sage leaves (an excellent foil to blackberry) and a crunchy hazelnut relish.

Fancy enough to impress, but simple enough to make for yourself in 20 short minutes, it offers just the right amount of autumnal decadence—especially with this beer on the side.

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches with Hazelnut Relish and Fried Sage Leaves
Serves 2

For the hazelnut relish:
50g blanched hazelnuts, toasted
3 1/2 tbs olive oil
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Generous pinch Maldon sea salt

In a food processor, pulse together all of the ingredients until the hazelnut is finely chopped and the mixture is well combined. Set aside.

For the fried sage leaves:
20g salted butter
20 fresh sage leaves

In a small frying pan, heat the butter over medium-high heat. As soon as it has melted, add the sage leaves in a single layer, making sure they aren't overlapping. Fry for approximately two minutes, or until the leaves have darkened in colour and have crisped.

Gently remove from the pan with a fork or slotted spoon, and allow to drain and cool on a paper towel for five minutes.

For the sandwiches:
4 large slices of bread, preferably a rustic sourdough
Salted butter, softened
100g Taleggio, rind removed
100g Délice de Bourgogne, rind removed (or substitute another triple crème cheese)

To assemble your sandwiches, first generously butter both sides of each piece of bread with salted butter. On one piece of bread (setting a second aside for the time being), build your sandwich fillings by layering half of the Taleggio and Délice de Bourgogne, topping off with a generous amount of relish and 10 fried sage leaves. Repeat with the second sandwich.

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the two cheese-topped slices, bread-side down, pressing the second pieces of bread onto the top of each once in the pan. Cook on one side for approximately 3-4 minutes, or until the cheese is starting to get gooey and the bottom bread has gone a toasty golden brown; flip your sandwiches carefully and continue to cook on the opposite side for 2-3 more minutes.

When done, remove from the pan and let sit for a minute before slicing in half and serving.